QotW (#82) Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them

eye of sauron

Consider Frodo Baggins

As comfortable middle age approaches, he’s broadly minding his own business, apart from the desire to perhaps go on a few more foreign holidays.  Sure, he’s a little eccentric, and keeps a more eclectic circle of friends and acquaintances than many.  But fundamentally a ‘nice, well-spoken gentle-hobbit‘, as Gaffer Gamgee might say.  Looking forward to not much more than another 50-60 years of smoking his pipe on the doorstep of Bag End; hiking through the Shire at night; writing; and keeping out of the way of those dreadful oiks, the Sackville-Bagginses.

Adventures?  No thank you.

All is well, until that meddling magician, Gandalf arrives …

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PTS 015/091: The Man of a Thousand Faces

lon chaney
Lon Chaney jr trailblazes Bilbo Baggins, Sherlock Holmes, Pennywise, and Forrest Gump

1 Henry IV Act I scene ii is, really, all about that devastating soliloquy in which Hal channels Lon Chaney jr.

But before that, I want to have a word about … EXPOSITION.

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PTS 014/088: With This Ring … ?

brand

RICHARD: Vouchsafe to wear this ring.

ANNE: To take is not to give.’ (RIII, I.ii)

PTS read-through:  The Merchant of Venice, Act V

Occasionally, actually quite often if you’re me, you say things in class which get far more of a reaction than you anticipated. One of those moments came recently, when I suggested that an engagement ring was a symbol of ownership, not so different from a brand on a cow, if you thought about it.

Silence invaded the room’, as Steinbeck might have said.

The students were either reappraising their world-views, or they were reappraising me. It’s never easy to tell which.

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QotW (#66): 04 February 2019

Tilley Morris PalmerThis week finds me in a sombre, reflective mood.  Maybe it’s the continuation of Dry January (day 35 without alcohol, thanks very much).  There will, mind, be ‘more cakes and (especially) ale‘, at some stage, but not for a few weeks yet.  Apparently, I was ‘more fun’ when I was drinking, so bear with me.

Then, today is my younger son’s birthday: 18 today.  If that doesn’t give a man pause for thought on how time passes and how he has spent his life, I don’t know what will.

Which brings me to Morris Palmer Tilley.  Until recently a footnote in my life, and possibly that or less in yours …

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PTS 13/081: The Curse of Kings

… is that the job is, frankly, shit. And that you have to be a shit to do it successfully.

big mac
Excuse me?  I ordered a kingdom like I saw in the advert …

PTS read-through:  King John, Act IV.

If you’re not ‘born great’, if you want to achieve greatness, you have to put in the hours, right?  Just think of the graft involved: wheeling and dealing; equivocating; making and breaking alliances; sucking up; marrying well (not, alas, for love); adding colours to the chameleon; changing shapes with Proteus; and generally setting the murderous Machiavel to school.

And for what?

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Pay attention, there’s a test (part 2)

At 18, students ought to be able to handle History plays, but the exam boards don’t seem to like them?

BH KS5 texts

Following my recent KS4 post, I extended my research to A Level – that is the exams taken by 18-year olds before they hit university.  Again, I’d love to hear from students or teachers, especially in other countries.  Here are a few thoughts of my own:

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PTS 12/072: A Game of Two Halves …

Maybe Prince Escalus should have gone to VAR … ?

BH mob-football-in-england
The keeper (left) tried to make himself look big, whilst under pressure from a swarthy Croatian defender, Harry Kane tried to nudge the ball home

Ponytail Shakespeare read-through: Romeo and Juliet, Act I, scene i

Regular readers will understand my complex relationship with the notion of ‘England’.

The catchy simplicity of Three Lions (It’s Coming Home) turned from pleasantly nostalgic ‘earworm‘ – I well remember the song’s release for Euro ’96 – to a cankerous ‘worm ‘i the bud‘ [a] long before Wednesday’s almost inevitable defeat to Croatia.  The entire nation, it seemed, had been reduced to a vocabulary of just three words – a mantra which was unchallengeable, a self-evident truth destroyed in just 120 minutes (if only Brexit could fall as quickly.) As I watched people (including several students) spill out of The Sun – opposite where I was drinking – in a numbed state of shock after the match, I was glad I wouldn’t hear it for a while.  Having ‘sat like Patience’ I was now, almost, ‘smiling at grief’.  To no avail:  by 11am the next day – no lie – I was hearing “World Cup 2022:  It’s Coming Home” in the corridors of ‘C’ Block … sigh.

Has this anything to do with Romeo and Juliet?  Of course.

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